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Atheists raise $63K for student in RI prayer flap

March 26, 2012
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CRANSTON, R.I.—A teenage atheist at the center of a dispute over a prayer banner at a Rhode Island high school has received a scholarship for nearly $63,000 from the American Humanist Association.

Sixteen-year-old Jessica Ahlquist accepted the check on Saturday at the Reason Rally in Washington. Organizers of the event, at which Ahlquist spoke, dubbed it "the largest gathering of the secular movement in history."

Ahlquist was targeted with online threats after she challenged the constitutionality of the banner at Cranston High School West. It contains the words "Our Heavenly Father" and "Amen."

A federal judge in January ordered the banner removed. It was taken down this month after the school committee decided not to appeal.

Blogger Hemant Mehta started the scholarship campaign at the Friendly Atheist website.

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